I had two sources for this painting: a drawing from the model and a photograph of the pose; the drawing was far and away the more useful. There were a dozen different versions of the painting, which is actually quick work for me. I usually need twice that many sessions to finish a project of this scale. The first painted image was a bare contour, and the linear focus continued throughout the process.
The composition and color were basically set by the third version. Unfortunately, the result was more like a book or magazine illustration than a painting, especially in the flat treatment of the surface.
With a few minor modifications, version 4 could have been a finished painting, but it seemed like a collection of separate shapes rather than a unified whole.
In version 5, there’s a ghostly smile I still take pleasure in, but it was so far away from the feeling of the original pose, I couldn’t let it stand. There are a lot of elements in a painting that I’m happy to change, but I try not to tamper with the emotional foundation.
This one was another almost-completed image. I like the contrast between the left and right sides of the face, from clearly delineated features to blurred illegibility.
The final version catches the moody, skeptical quality of the model in the original pose, though the setting is invented and details of the figure have been changed. The painting also serves as an entry point to summer.
Since finishing "Beach Figure", I’ve begun working a little differently, concentrating on what I’d call intertwined rather than contrasting color. The results probably won’t look that unfamiliar to anyone who has seen my past paintings. Different times can carry the same sense of light.
|"Beach Figure"--oil on canvas, 40" x 40"|